WO1999066415A1 - Communication system and method for interfacing differing communication standards - Google Patents

Communication system and method for interfacing differing communication standards

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Publication number
WO1999066415A1
WO1999066415A1 PCT/US1999/012877 US9912877W WO1999066415A1 WO 1999066415 A1 WO1999066415 A1 WO 1999066415A1 US 9912877 W US9912877 W US 9912877W WO 1999066415 A1 WO1999066415 A1 WO 1999066415A1
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WO
Grant status
Application
Patent type
Prior art keywords
standard
peripheral device
system
information
communications standard
Prior art date
Application number
PCT/US1999/012877
Other languages
French (fr)
Inventor
Bruce Young
Corwyn Richard Meyer
Original Assignee
Gateway
Priority date (The priority date is an assumption and is not a legal conclusion. Google has not performed a legal analysis and makes no representation as to the accuracy of the date listed.)
Filing date
Publication date

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Classifications

    • GPHYSICS
    • G06COMPUTING; CALCULATING; COUNTING
    • G06FELECTRIC DIGITAL DATA PROCESSING
    • G06F13/00Interconnection of, or transfer of information or other signals between, memories, input/output devices or central processing units
    • G06F13/38Information transfer, e.g. on bus
    • G06F13/382Information transfer, e.g. on bus using universal interface adapter
    • G06F13/385Information transfer, e.g. on bus using universal interface adapter for adaptation of a particular data processing system to different peripheral devices

Abstract

A system (300) for communicating information between an information handling system (110) and a peripheral device of the information handling system (232). A host controller (312) coupled to a bus (110) receives the information and sends the information to the peripheral device (232) according to a first communications standard. A peripheral device controller (213) coupled to the host controller (312) converts the information from the first communications standard to a second communications standard and transmits the information to the peripheral device (232).

Description

COMMUNICATION SYSTEM AND METHOD FOR INTERFACING DIFFERING COMMUNICATION STANDARDS

FIELD OF THE INVENTION The present invention generally relates to the field of information handling systems, and particularly to a system and method for communicating with an information handling system.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION In the art of information handling systems, it is desirable to provide open architecture designs for information handling systems in which the specifications are published and available to all hardware and software developers, many of whom being direct competitors The advantage of open architecture designs over closed architecture designs m which specifications are proprietary or otherwise not freely available is that no single company alone must bear the burden and costs of the infrastructure and research and development of the information handling system design Thus, third parties are allowed to independently develop hardware enhancements and peripheral devices The open-architecture design of the International Business Machines (IBM) compatible personal computer architecture contributed significantly to its present dominance in the computer industry

However, a disadvantage of open architecture information handling systems is that new design standards are continually developed that are incompatible with previous standards Further, since no single company or organization controls design standards, and since incompatible standards are often promulgated by competing companies, each vying to become the de facto industry standard, hardware devices developed for one standard risk becoming useless or obsolete if a different standard is adopted by the industry. Further, the hardware devices of presently existing devices must be redesigned to be compatible with newly adopted industry standards requirmg further time and resources. For example, Recommended Standard 232 (RS-232) promulgated by the Electrical Industries

Association is a commonly implemented standard for serial communications in an information handling system. However, the Universal Serial Bus (USB) is a recently promulgated serial bus design standard for connecting peripherals to an information handling system Thus, preexisting, or legacy, devices and the information handling systems for controlling such devices are typically designed in compliance with RS-232 standards and therefore may be incompatible with information handling systems that incorporate a USB standard bus It would be therefore highly desirable to be able to utilize a hardware device such as a legacy device designed according to a first standard with an information handling system that implements a second standard differing from the first standard SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION T e present invention is directed to a system for communicating information between an information handling system and a peripheral device of the information handling system In one embodiment, the system includes a processor for executing instructions on the information handling system, the processor being coupled to a bus for carrying information provided by the processor, a host controller coupled to the bus for receiving the information and for sendmg the information to the penpheral device according to a first communications standard, and a peripheral device controller coupled to the host controller for converting the information from the first communications standard to a second communications standard and for transmitting the information to the peripheral device in accordance with the second communications standard, the second communications standard being interpretable by the penpheral device.

The present invention is further directed to. in an information handlmg system, a method for communicating with a peripheral device with a first communication standard wherein the peripheral device interprets information according to a second communication standard differing from the first communications standard In one embodiment of the invention, the method includes steps for generating control information for controlling the penpheral device, sending the control information to a penpheral device controller according to a first communications standard, convening the control information from the first communication standard to the second communication standard, the control information in the second communication standard being interpretable by the peripheral device, and transmitting the convened control information to the peripheral device accordmg to the second communication standard whereby the peripheral device receives and interprets the control information and executes a control function in response thereto

It is to be understood that both the forgoing general descπption and the following detailed description are exemplary and explanatory only and are not restrictive of the invention as claimed. The accompanying drawings, which are incorporated in and constitute a part of the specification, illustrate an embodiment of the invention and together with the general descnption. serve to explain the principles of the invention

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The numerous advantages of the present invention may be better understood by those skilled in the an by reference to the accompanying figures in which

FIG. 1 is a block diagram of an information handling system operable to embody the present invention; FIG 2 is a block diagram of a system which a peripheral device is adapted to operate with a system bus in compliance with a bus communications standard in accordance with the present invention, FIG 3 is a block diagram of a system in which a peripheral device designed to receive information transmitted in an infrared communications standard is adapted to operate with a system bus m compliance with a bus communications standard in accordance with the present invention, and

FIG 4 is a flow diagram illustrating a method for communicating with a peripheral device with control information sent accordmg to a first communications standard wherem the penpheral device interprets information accordmg to a second communications standard m accordance with the present invention

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION Reference will now be made m detail to the presently preferred embodiment of the invention, an example of which is illustrated in the accompanymg drawings

Referring now to FIG 1, a hardware system m accordance with the present invention is shown The hardware system shown m FIG 1 is generally representative of the hardware architecture of an information handling system of the present invention A central processmg system 102 controls the information handling system 100 Central processing system 102 includes a central processmg unit such as a microprocessor or microcontroller for executing programs, performing data manipulations and controlling the tasks of information handlmg system 100 Communication with central processor 102 is implemented through a system bus 110 for transferring information among the components of information handling system 100 Bus 110 may include a data channel for facilitating information transfer between storage and other peripheral components of information handling system 100 Bus 110 further provides the set of signals required for communication with central processing system 102 including a data bus, address bus, and control bus Bus 110 may comprise any state of the art bus architecture according to promulgated standards, for example industry standard architecture (ISA), extended industry standard architecture (EISA), Micro Channel Architecture (MCA), peripheral component interconnect (PCI) local bus, standards promulgated by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) including IEEE 488 general-purpose interface bus (GPIB), IEEE 696/S- 100, and so on Other components of information handling system 100 mclude main memory 104, auxiliary memory 106, and an auxiliary processmg system 108 as required Mam memory 104 provides storage of instructions and data for programs executing on central processmg system 102 Mam memory 104 is typically semiconductor based memory such as dynamic random access memory (DRAM) and or static random access memory (SRAM) Auxiliary memory 106 provides storage of instructions and data that are loaded into the mam memory 104 before execution Auxiliary memory 106 may mclude semiconductor based memory such as read-only memory (ROM), programmable read-only memory (PROM) erasable programmable read-only memory (EPROM), electrically erasable read-only memory (EEPROM), or flash memory (block oriented memory similar to EEPROM) Auxiliary memory 106 may also include a variety of non-semiconductor based memories, including but not limited to magnetic tape, drum, floppy disk, hard disk, optical, laser disk, compact disc readonly memory (CD-ROM), digital versatile disk read-only memory (DVD-ROM), digital versatile disk random-access memory (DVD-RAM), etc Other vaneties of memory devices are contemplated as well Information handlmg system 100 may optionally mclude an auxiliary processmg system 108 which may be a digital signal processor (a special-purpose microprocessor havmg an architecture suitable for fast execution of signal processmg algorithms), a back-end processor (a slave processor subordinate to the mam processmg system), an additional microprocessor or controller for dual or multiple processor systems, or a coprocessor

Information handlmg system 100 further mcludes a display system 112 for connecting to a display device 114, and an input/output (I/O) system 116 for connecting to one or more I O devices 118, 120 up to TV number of I/O devices 122 Display system 112 may comprise a video display adapter havmg all of the components for dnvmg the display device, mcludmg video random access memory (VRAM), buffer, and graphics engine as desired Display device 114 may comprise a cathode ray-tube (CRT) type display such as a monitor or television, or may comprise alternative type of display technologies such as a liquid-crystal display (LCD), a light-emitting diode (LED) display, or a gas or plasma display Input output system 116 may comprise one or more controllers or adapters for providing interface functions between one or more of I/O devices 118-122 For example, input/output system 116 may comprise a serial port, parallel port, infrared port, network adapter, printer adapter, radio frequency (RF) communications adapter, universal asynchronous receiver-transmitter (UART) port, etc , for mterfacmg between corresponding I/O devices such as a mouse, joystick, trackball, trackpad, trackstick, mfrared transducers, prmter, modem, RF modem, bar code reader, charge-coupled device (CCD) reader, scanner, compact disc (CD), compact disc read-only memory (CD-ROM), digital versatile disc (DVD), video capture device, touch screen, stylus, electroacoustic transducer, microphone, speaker, etc Input/output system 116 and I/O devices 118-122 may provide or receive analog or digital signals for communication between information handlmg system 100 of the present mvention and external devices, networks, or information sources Input/output system 116 and I/O devices 118-122 preferably implement industry promulgated architecture standards, mcludmg Ethernet IEEE 802 standards (e g , IEEE 802 3 for broadband and baseband networks, IEEE 802 3z for Gigabit Ethernet, IEEE 802 4 for token passing bus networks, IEEE 802 5 for token ring networks, IEEE 802 6 for metropolitan area networks, 802 11 for wireless networks, and so on), Fibre Channel, digital subscriber line (DSL), asymmetric digital subscriber line (ASDL), frame relay, asynchronous transfer mode (ATM), mtegrated digital services network (ISDN), personal communications services (PCS), transmission control protocol/Internet protocol (TCP/IP), senal lme Internet protocol/point to pomt protocol (SLIP/PPP), and so on It should be appreciated that modification or reconfiguration of information handlmg system 100 of FIG 1 by one havmg ordinary skill in the art would not depart from the scope or the spirit of the present mvention Referring now to FIG 2 a system m which a peripheral device in compliance with a first communications standard is adapted to operate with a system bus m compliance with a second communications standard m accordance with the present invention will be discussed The system 200 mcludes a system bus 110 of information handlmg system 100 for transferring data among the hardware components of information handling system 100 Bus 110 includes groups of communications lines that carry data, address, and control information A host controller 212 couples to bus 110 and provides an interface between devices in compliance with the standard to which bus 110 is designed. For example, host controller 212 receives information in the form of bus signals from bus 110 and may provide a serial output signal 215 formatted in compliance with an RS-232 standard, thereby implementing an RS-232 serial port. An infrared (IR) controller 213 couples to the RS-232 serial port output 215 of host controller 212 for providing control signals for controlling a peripheral device such as a legacy device 232 with information handling system 100 with signals sent to host controller 212 via bus 110. Legacy device 232 may be, for example, a commercially available audio or audio/visual device (e.g , VCR, audio amplifier, laser disc player, DVD player, etc ) Legacy devices such as legacy device 232 typically utilize IR control codes that are manufacturer specific smce no true industry control code standard exists. For example, some legacy devices utilize the REC-80 IR control code developed by Panasonic Corporation while others utilize the RC-5 code developed by Philips Electronics N V. Furthermore, legacy device manufacturers typically do not utilize mfrared protocols that are standard in the personal computer mdustry such as the IrDA standard promulgated by the Infrared Data Association.

IR controller 213, therefore, includes a microcontroller 214 having an RS-232 interface that couples to host controller 212 to provide an interface between devices which operate in compliance with legacy device IR code standards and bus 110 Microcontroller 214 provides IR control codes to an mfrared transducer 216 for transmittmg the IR control codes as an infrared signal 218 to legacy device 232 Transducer 230 converts information signals received from transducer 216 into a form readable by legacy device 232.

Bus 110 may be compliant with any promulgated industry standard For example, bus 110 may be designed in compliance with any of the following bus architectures Industry Standard Architecture (ISA), Extended Industiy Standard Architecture (EISA), Micro Channel Architecture, or Peripheral Component Interconnect (PCI), for example Normally, an input/output device designed m compliance with the standard to which bus 110 is designed directly connects to host controller 212 However, smce legacy device 232 is designed to a standard that differs from the standard to which bus 110 is designed, microcontroller 214 is utilized to provide an interface between legacy device 232 and host controller 212

Further, communications medium 218 may be a wireless medium such that legacy device 232 may be operated at a remote location away from information handling system 100 in which bus 110, host controller 212, serial controller 214 and transducer 216 are disposed For example, communication medium 218 may be a radio frequency (RF) or mfrared (IR) communication medium wherein information signals are transmitted between from microcontroller 214 to legacy device 232 as electromagnetic waves havmg RF or IR wavelengths, respectively In the case of a typical legacy device 232, transducer 230 is a receiver and transducer 216 is a transmitter. Refemng now to FIG 3, a system m which the mfrared controller of FIG 2 is adapted to operate with a system bus in compliance with the Universal Serial Bus communications standard m accordance with the present invention will be discussed The system 300 includes bus 110 coupled to a USB controller 312 USB controller 312 m turn is coupled to a USB to RS-232 converter 314 implemented m IR controller 213 Legacy device 232 receives signals from an mfrared receiver 330 for receiving information transmitted via an mfrared signal 318 generated from information handlmg system 100 An mfrared diode transmitter 316 couples to legacy device 232 via mfrared signals 318 IR diode transmitter 316 sends the infrared signals 318 from IR controller 213 IR controller 213 is typically refened to as an IR blaster smce it transmits or "blasts" IR signals 318 to a remotely disposed legacy device 232

USB controller 312 receives bus signals from bus 110 and provides a USB formatted output signal 336 to IR controller 213 The USB formatted signal 336 is received by a USB to RS-232 converter included in IR controller 213 and is converted from a USB communications format to an RS- 232 communications format so that microcontroller 214 may convert the signals from RS-232 format to the control code format interpretable by legacy device 232 Thus, microcontroller 214 may be controlled with signals formatted in accordance with a first communications standard (e g , USB) wherein microcontroller 214 is designed to interpret signals formatted in accordance with a second communications standard (e g , RS-232) USB to RS-232 converter 337 may be implemented as a hardware device havmg specific circuitry designed to implement the conversion function, or may be a software routine stored m a read-only memory (1 e firmware), or may be a software program runnmg on central processing system 102 or IR controller 213

Referring now to FIG 4, a flow diagram illustrating a method for communication between devices using differing communications protocols will be discussed The method 400 begins when a information handling system 100 generates control information at step 410 for a peripheral device such as legacy device 232 (e g , VCR, laser disc player, audio amplifier, etc ) The control information may be generated, or example, by a program of instructions executed by central processing system 102, or by a command entered by a user into information handling system 100 via input/output device 122 through input/output system 116 The control information is sent at step 412 m compliance with a first communications standard to a device controller, for example IR controller 213, via bus 110 The control information is received at step 414 by the device controller according to the first communication standard The first communication standard may be, for example, an RS-232 or USB communications standard The received control information is then converted from the first communication standard to a second communication standard at step 416 The information formatted according to the second communication standard is interpretable as a control command by the peripheral device Typically, the second communication standard is a standard specific to the manufacturer of the peripheral device These manufacturer specific codes may be stored on the peripheral device controller (e g , as firmware) such that the peripheral device controller may receive control information according to the first communication standard or protocol and convert the control information or generate the control information in a form interpretable by the peripheral, or legacy, device. The control information is then transmitted at step 418 to the peripheral device in accordance with the second communications format or protocol whereupon the information is received by the peripheral device at step 420. The information may be transmitted via a direct communications link (e.g., wire or fiber optic cable) or via a wireless communications link (e.g., infrared or radio frequency data transmission.) The peripheral device interprets the received information at step 422 and executes the control function indicated by the control information at step 424 (e.g., "play", "stop", "increase/decrease volume", etc.).

Although the invention has been described with a certain degree of particularity, it should be recognized that elements thereof may be altered by persons skilled in the art without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention. One of the embodiments of the invention can be implemented as sets of instructions resident in the main memory 104 of one or more computer systems configured generally as described in FIG. 1. Until required by the computer system, the set of instructions may be stored in another computer readable memory such as auxiliary memory 106 of FIG. 1, for example in a hard disk drive or in a removable memory such as an optical disk for utilization in a CD-ROM drive, a floppy disk for utilization in a floppy disk drive, a floptical disk for utilization in a floptical drive, or a personal computer memory card for utilization in a personal computer card slot. Further, the set of instructions can be stored in the memory of another computer and transmitted over a local area network or a wide area network, such as the Internet, when desired by the user. Additionally, the instructions may be transmitted over a network in the form of an applet that is inteφreted or compiled after transmission to the computer system rather than prior to transmission. One skilled in the art would appreciate that the physical storage of the sets of instructions or applets physically changes the medium upon which it is stored electrically, magnetically, chemically, physically, optically or holographically so that the medium canies computer readable information. It is believed that the communication system and method for interfacing differing communication standards of the present invention and many of its attendant advantages will be understood by the forgoing description, and it will be apparent that various changes may be made in the form, construction and arrangement of the components thereof without departing from the scope and spirit of the invention or without sacrificing all of its material advantages, the form herein before described being merely an explanatory embodiment thereof. It is the intention of the following claims to encompass and include such changes.

Claims

CLAIMS What is claimed is
1 A system for communicating information between an information handling system and a peripheral device of the information handling system, comprising a processor for executing instructions on the information handling system, said processor bemg coupled to a bus for carrying mformation provided by said processor, a host controller coupled to said bus for receiving the mformation and for sendmg the information to the peripheral device according to a first communications standard, and a peripheral device controller coupled to said host controller for converting the information from the first communications standard to a second communications standard and for transmittmg the mformation to the peripheral device m accordance with the second communications standard, the second communications standard bemg mteφretable by the peripheral device
2 A system as claimed in claim 1, said peripheral device controller comprising an mfrared controller
3 A system as claimed m claim 1, said peripheral device controller comprising a microcontroller having a serial port interface for generating control information for the peripheral device, and a transducer coupled to said microcontroller for transmitting the control mformation to the peripheral device
4 A system as claimed in claim 3, the serial port interface being in compliance with an RS-232 standard
5 A system as claimed in claim 1, the first communications standard being a serial communications standard
6 A system as claimed m claim 5, the serial communications standard being in compliance with RS-232 standards
7 A system as claimed in claim 1, the second communications standard bemg an infrared communications standard
8 A system as claimed in claim 1, the second communications standard bemg a radio frequency standard
9 A system as claimed in claim 1, said host controller being a USB controller
10 A system as claimed in claim 1, the first communications standard being in compliance with a USB standard
11 A system as claimed in claim 1, said peripheral device controller comprising a microcontroller havmg a serial communications interface for generating control information for the peripheral device, a converter, coupled between said host controller and said microcontroller, for converting the mformation from the first communications standard to the second communications standard, and a transducer coupled to said microcontroller for transmitting the control information to the peripheral device according to the second communication standard
12 A system as claimed m claim 11, said host controller bemg a USB controller, the serial communications interface of said microcontroller being in compliance with an RS-232 standard, and said converter bemg a USB to RS-232 converter
13 A system for communicating information between an information handlmg system and a peripheral device of the information handling system, comprising means for executmg instructions on the information handling system, said processor being coupled to means for carrying information provided by said processor, means, coupled to said carrying means, for receiving the information and for sending the mformation to the peripheral device according to a first communications standard, and means, coupled to said receiving means, for converting the mformation from the first communications standard to a second communications standard and for transmittmg the information to the peripheral device in accordance with the second communications standard, the second communications standard bemg mteφretable by the peripheral device
14 A system as claimed in claim 13, said converting means comprising an mfrared controller
15 A system as claimed in claim 13, said converting means comprising a means having a serial port mterface for generating control mformation for the peripheral device, and means, coupled to said generating means, for transmitting the control information to the peripheral device
16 A system as claimed in claim 15, the serial port interface being in compliance with RS-232 standards
17 A system as claimed in claim 13, the first communications standard being a serial communications standard
18 A system as claimed in claim 17, the serial communications standard being m compliance with an RS-232 standard
19 A system as claimed in claim 13, the second communications standard being an mfrared communications standard
20 A system as claimed m claim 13, the second communications standard being a radio frequency standard
21 A system as claimed m claim 13, said receiving means being a USB controller
22 A system as claimed m claim 13, the first communications standard bemg m compliance with a USB standard
23. A system as claimed in claim 13, said converting means comprising means having a serial communications interface for generating control information for the peripheral device, means, coupled between said receiving means and said generating means, for converting the information from the first communications standard to the second communications standard, and means, coupled to said generating means, for transmitting the control information to the peripheral device according to the second communication standard.
24. A system as claimed in claim 23, said receiving means being a USB controller, the serial communications interface of said microcontroller being in compliance with RS-232 standards, and said means for converting being a USB to RS-232 converter.
25. In an information handling system, a method for communicating with a peripheral device with a first communication standard wherein the peripheral device inteφrets information according to a second communication standard differing from the first communications standard, comprising: generating control information for controlling the peripheral device; sending the control mformation to a peripheral device controller according to a first communications standard; converting the control information from the first communication standard to the second communication standard, the control information in the second communication standard being inteφretable by the peripheral device; and transmitting the converted control information to the peripheral device according to the second communication standard whereby the peripheral device receives and inteφrets the control information and executes a control function in response thereto.
26. A method as claimed in claim 25, the first communications standard being in compliance with an RS-232 standard.
27. A method as claimed in claim 25, the first communications standard being in compliance with a USB standard.
28. A method as claimed in claim 25, said transmitting step comprising the step of transmitting the converted control information to the peripheral device as an infrared signal.
29. A method as claimed in claim 25, said transmitting step comprising the step of transmitting the converted control information to the peripheral device as a radio frequency signal.
30 A computer readable medium readable by an information handlmg system whose contents cause the information handling system to execute steps for communicating with a peripheral device with a first communication standard wherein the peripheral device inteφrets information m according to a second communication standard differing from the first communications standard, the steps compnsmg- generating control information for controlling the peripheral device, sending the control information to a peripheral device controller accordmg to a first communications standard; converting the control information from the first communication standard to the second communication standard, the control mformation m the second communication standard bemg mteφretable by the peripheral device; and transmittmg the converted control information to the peripheral device accordmg to the second communication standard whereby the peripheral device receives and inteφrets the control mformation and executes a control function in response thereto
31 A computer readable medium as claimed in claim 30, the first communications standard being in compliance with an RS-232 standard
32. A computer readable medium as claimed in claim 30, the first communications standard being m compliance with a USB standard.
33 A computer readable medium as claimed in claim 30, said transmittmg step comprising the step of transmittmg the converted control information to the peripheral device as an infrared signal
34 A computer readable medium as claimed m claim 30, said transmitting step compnsmg the step of transmittmg the converted control information to the peripheral device as a radio frequency signal.
PCT/US1999/012877 1998-06-19 1999-06-08 Communication system and method for interfacing differing communication standards WO1999066415A1 (en)

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